There isn’t any rhyme or reason for where game concepts and ideas come from. They sort of just come to you. But here a few things to think about that may aid you coming up with that great game idea!
1 – Play a wide range of games
It’s all about getting experience and exposure to a wide variety of game mechanics. Don’t just play a single style of game; make sure you try a wide range. Card based games, dice based games, resource management games, worker placement games etc etc. The more types of games you play the more you will understand which mechanics and combinations of mechanics work well. This will also avoid any risk of you thinking you have developed something unique when in fact it may be currently being used in an established game!
2 – Keep proper notes
An obvious thing to say! In practice, a much harder task to be disciplined about. When a nugget of a game idea is being formed, writing down will help capture it before it’s forgotten, but importantly it also allows you to quickly flesh out the concept further so that when you speak to your friends you can explain your idea clearly.
Another angle may be to keep a list of all the types of things you like in your favourite games. If there are some mechanics that you particularly like, then keep a note. Creating a unique game is just as much about combining standard factors/mechanics in a new way as it is about creating a brand new concept.
3 – Create some rules, mock it up and test it
Once you have pulled together the mechanics and economics that you want in your game, the next step is to actually go about writing an outline set of rules for your game. Also, get your scissors out and create some cards and boards. This is important as it allows you to quickly move beyond “talking” to testing if the idea works.
If an idea fails, don’t throw it out straight away, think about if it just requires tweaking or if it could sit in a different place in the game. Our experience has taught us that the order of different mechanics is just as important as the mechanic itself!